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Climate Change As Darwinism July 7, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in cool stuff.
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A Different Climate Change Apocalypse Than the One You Were Envisioning – Freakonomics – Opinion – New York Times Blog
Let’s say you are convinced that climate change is a huge threat and will have catastrophic consequences for humankind in the foreseeable future. How exactly do you envision that catastrophe playing out?

According to a fascinating new working paper (abstract here; download available here by Melissa Dell, Benjamin F. Jones, and Benjamin A. Olken, the answer to that last question may be an easy one: poor countries.

Our main results show large, negative effects of higher temperatures on growth, but only in poor countries. … In rich countries, changes in temperature have no discernible effect on growth.

What does this mean? Among other things, it may mean that many Americans — who are by definition rich — are worried about the wrong thing. Instead of thinking about weather apocalypses, they should instead be thinking about border invasions: the huddled masses from the poorest countries who will be seeking refuge as their own economies collapse. This would be Darwinism on the most epic scale imaginable — but instead of the finch with the shorter beak becoming extinct, it’ll be the poorest millions, or perhaps billions.

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